Category Archives: Pregnancy and Baby

Sophia Jane

What a joy it has been to welcome Sophia into our family. What a blessing for Eleanor to have the gift of a sister, and what a blessing for us to get to raise two girls!

Sophia means “wisdom” and Jane means “gift from God”.

She was born on May 17th  at 5:38am after four and a half hours of labor. It was extremely painful, much more painful than Ellie’s birth. In fact, I say it was three times as fast and three times more painful than Ellie’s birth. My theory is that the pain increased so quickly that the endorphins couldn’t keep up with the pain. If you are interested in more details you can watch the video I recorded with the birth story.

She was 7 pounds 11 ounces and 19.7 inches.

And here is a photo bomb of the last month and a half. Some fun highlights: my mom came to help us- what a tremendous blessing! You can see I look tons like her, but the girls take after their dad. Who knew I’d ever live with so many cheeky people?

We had a Starbucks in the hospital- one point over homebirth- and so Scott got us some more than once. Yum!

Ellie loves being a big sister. Everyone always asks us if she is jealous. The answer is no. She’s delighted to have another friend!

My friend, Elif, who is the girls’ Turkish aunt, met Sophie when she was five days old.

One week after she was born my mom, Ellie, Sophie and I hopped on a boat and went to a nearby island. You can see Ellie and I drinking our Starbucks on the boat. What a fun day!

We’re still enjoying lots of cuddles and sweet days with our little one. She’s grown a lot and is a sweet, chunky, hiccupy baby.

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Slowing down and learning to be okay with it

Today I’m 30 weeks pregnant with a squirmy little sweetie pie that has certainly reminded me that it’s time to slow down. With a busy and active two-year-old to keep in mind, mentally I had prepared myself for not slowing down until after baby made his or her appearance. I think I forgot how the last ten weeks of pregnancy necessitates slowing down, and was feeling a little too ambitious for my own britches.

This weekend I had a lovely get away weekend. The first night involved getting out to get some shoe shopping done, and then I spent the night at the home of some single girls in my church. The next night those girls watched Ellie for us while Scott and I hopped over to a nearby island to sit and be in love without a toddler requesting to pee every so often or to tell us what the name of every item on the table was called. It was magical. But, even the getting out the door was tough. In fact, by the time I got to the girls’ house Friday night I was dead. Cleaning and cooking and playing with a toddler in the midst of preparing to leave for the weekend is a lot more difficult when hauling around 20 extra pounds!

A few weeks ago I had a forced slow down that should have been a cue that slowing down is inevitable. I was stuck inside for two weeks with a nasty cold that was tough to shake. And, once I was feeling better and ready to get on with my life, I sprained my ankle while walking to the store to finally get caught up on groceries and cooking. The funny thing was that when I sprained my ankle I dared not believe it could be true, so hopped up (figuratively, not literally) off the sidewalk and waddled on with my shopping. Once I got home my ankle was the size of Atlanta and I resumed my cooped up, shut-in lifestyle for another week. It was depressing.

The problem is that I have so little grace with myself. I have pretty high expectations of what I’d like to accomplish on any given day, and it’s beyond frustrating to be inhibited from getting my to-do list done. Moreover, I have a language to keep learning that’s not simply going to implant itself in my mind from living in this country. And as an extrovert I really do enjoy seeing friends! So to be a little more home bound for a few months sounds as appealing as eating cabbage soup for lunch everyday for the rest of my life. No thank you!

However, just this week I’ve had a turn around. I don’t have a choice on this slowing down matter…my dogs are barking! I do have a choice on to accept this slowing down with grace or with resentment. I think I’ll choose the former. I’ll soak up more and more hours of these one-on-one moments reading and building towers with Ellie. I’ll take great pride that my family members are all in clean underwear instead of considering it an at least accomplishment. And I’ll be okay with the fact that my one outing for the day was to the grocery store knowing it’s no easy feat pushing a 30 lb toddler in a stroller, walking a 20 lb belly, and hauling 40 lbs of groceries the one kilometer home. Instead of tackling a to-do list of 15 things I’ll scale down to a to-do list of 3 and be okay with one of them being taking a nap and considering it cuddle time with the little one growing in my body. And, when I do get extra hours of studying language in or get some great quality time with friends I’ll be grateful for the extra special blessing that it is.


Filed under Cultural Mishaps, Our Daily Life, Pregnancy and Baby

Ellie’s big day

I rarely sit down and blog because when I have free time I pick up the books and study Turkish. Even though I get tons of practice speaking daily with moms at the park or clerks at stores, and I can get by quite well, I want to continue to actually get better and to use more sophisticated language structures. I also want to be able to speak about more complex, or just plain different, subjects. So, that doesn’t leave a ton of time for social media, but as fellow busy humans, I’m sure you understand.

At any rate, we had a fun week last week. A couple of months back Ellie was one of those rare humans who gets spotted out in public and invited to be a model. The manager of a baby clothing company here in Turkey saw her and asked if we’d be interested in letting her be in their summer catalog. Now, as a side note, it’s no secret she’s cute, but Turks cannot get enough of blue eyes and blonde hair, so in their book she’s ten times more beautiful because she has such rare features. So she’s basically the token asian kid you find in kid’s brochures in the States. It doesn’t hurt that she’s cheeky, has the world’s cutest dimples, and is not camera shy. The photographer hasn’t sent me any of the great photos yet, the ones that will make me cry, you know. But here are some of the bloopers (at least that’s what I call them).


First of all, I demand to know who taught her this???? Does she think she's a Victoria's Secret diaper model?  Second of all, is this dress not the cutest?

First of all, I demand to know who taught her this???? Does she think she’s a Victoria’s Secret diaper model? Second of all, is this dress not the cutest?

Secondly, it's positively shocking that no one has ever stopped me on the street and asked me to be a model for their catalog.... Or maybe not so shocking? And, again, isn't this dress so cute?
Thirdly, it’s positively shocking that no one has ever stopped me on the street and asked me to be a model for their catalog…. Or maybe not so shocking? Although I could be THE look for goofy maternity moms all around the world with an expression like this! More importantly, isn’t this dress so cute?

This outfit is way too big. Is that going to be the new style for 2014? I guess we all have to wait to find out.

This outfit is way too big. Is that going to be the new style for 2014? I guess we all have to wait to find out.

Here I am buttoning up her dress. She's beautiful.

Here I am buttoning up her dress. She’s beautiful.

Here we are for a little mid-session snuggle. She made it the whole time without whining or crying, but she needed a little mama hug for reassurance. I guess that's excusable for a child that's not yet 2.

Here we are for a little mid-session snuggle. She made it the whole time without whining or crying, but she needed a little mama hug for reassurance. I guess that’s excusable for a child that’s not yet 2. And look at Baby Rank #2 cooking away!


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Coming soon to Istanbul…

Well, after a crazy few years we decided 2013 was going to be the year of No Big Changes. So glad we gave ourselves a break from international moving, having babies, changing jobs, changing homes, saying tearful goodbyes, and international flights. However, the Ranks are movers and shakers so we decided to shake things up for 2014. In May we’re expecting another baby! I’m 12 weeks now, and found a great doctor here in Istanbul. She assures me the baby is developing beautifully. I think I’m most excited for Ellie to have a sibling. She’s such a social butterfly that it will do her (and me) well for her to have a friend at home.

This pregnancy has been a tough one, much more difficult than with Ellie. I’ve done my fair share of vomiting, and Ellie learned a new phrase- “give Mommy some space” You know it’s your second when you cannot even vomit in privacy. Yuck! My gag reflex was out of this world, and nothing, nothing sounded good to eat. The fatigue was pretty special. Ellie would hit the sack around 7:30 and I wasn’t far behind. Thankfully around 11 weeks I turned a corner. I feel so much better and the fatigue is bearable. More and more things are sounding yummy to make and eat, and I’m finally able to invite friends over for dinner again. I so love hosting, and missed seeing people!

I had an inkling I was pregnant about a week and a half after the baby was conceived. It was 9:30 in the morning and I wanted nothing more on earth than a juicy, steak burrito (really a durum for those who know what that is). I tried to find one, but no one was open. Later that day, I had one and nothing was more satisfying on the planet. Women who’ve been pregnant know the thrill of having a craving met. It’s bliss. A few days later I had a positive pregnancy test and am still craving beef. Maybe it’s a boy? Guess we’ll all find out in May!

One embarrassing story was one evening I was headed to a girls’ night at our church. On the way I was riding a double decker bus and sat on top. There was a lot of stopping and starting and I had the feeling I was going to vomit. I walked down the stairs and stood by the door to get off at the next stop, but we were stopped at a light. I needed to get off immediately, but couldn’t open my mouth to speak or I would’ve had an accident. Not sure why, but the driver opened the door and I rushed off and vomited in the nearest tree. I looked up and two men were staring at men. I assured them I was pregnant, then vomited again. It was so embarrassing. I’m sure they thought I was drunk or something since I was only 7 weeks at that point and not visibly pregnant.

We’re delighted, thrilled, praising the Lord for this gift!

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You can’t have the crop without the ox

Today I was reading in Proverbs 14. I’ve felt thirsty for fresh wisdom from the Proverbs as of late, so that’s where I try to park every morning with freshly brewed coffee in hand and an open heart.

This morning proved a struggle. I was up for 2 hours in the wee hours of the night with a teething little one. After I put her down for her morning nap, all the chores that I really hadn’t the heart to attend to at the time were calling my name, as usual. But, I decided I needed to get my heart in check first. So, I sat down on the couch and tried to ignore the toys scattered everywhere, tried to not think about the dishes in the sink or the laundry in the washer waiting to be put in the dryer.


Keeping it real

As I was reading I stumbled upon a humbling verse.

Proverbs 14:4 Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.

My take away today: Where there are no children, the house is clean, but abundant JOY comes by the delight of children.


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Living the Dream

Okay, maybe we’re not living the dream, but we’re living our dream, and it’s such a sweet season for us. I’m so thankful that 8 months ago we moved to Istanbul. I feel like our family belongs here. I adore the challenge of living life in a place where I have to learn a new language, culture and way of living. I like making discoveries such as finding the freshest eggs in town, learning to use local ingredients in cooking, and figuring out how to manage conversations in a tongue that is foreign to me but enchanting nonetheless. Have you heard Turkish? It’s a harmonic language, so it sounds lovely to the ear.

scottbookWe’ve been keeping busy as usual. Scott is currently writing a dissertation that requires him to research material in several foreign languages. Imagine that?! Not only does the poor guy have to write a book, but he only can write it after reading tomes and tomes of material, old material, mind you, in Turkish, Ottoman Turkish, Persian and Arabic, with a side of French to boot! In addition to this, he teaches English to Japanese people on the internet, is involved in translation projects for a local university, and has written several e-books that have been released in the past fews months. My personal favorite is his book on Insane Rulers which you should definitely check-out!

He is also a great husband and father, and is quite involved in our local church. He helps lead a weekly small group and once a month translates the sermon for guests that don’t understand Turkish. Did I mention he’s really a great husband and father?

I should have started with an update about me because it’s hard to come after that! At any rate, I’m also doing well. My big life endeavors continue to be raising Ellie and learning Turkish. I’ve been trying my hand at several Montesorri ideas with Ellie, and it’s been fun to see how well she responds. For example, I decided to see what would happen if I let her run around naked and point her to the potty when she goes. As it turns out, at her own will, she’s gone in the potty 4 times and told me, I’ll spare you the specific details on this one, but has told me that she has gone #2 twice.

In addition, she’s speaking a lot. She even likes to sing “Row, row, row your boat”- row, row, row, boat…so sweet. Also, E, I, E, I, O  is a big hit around here! Some of her favorite things to say are “apple, no, brown bear, book,  mama, daddy, bye bye, olive, bible, doggy, and gel (Turkish for come). Yesterday she conquered the stairs and the slide at the park on her own. Prior to that I’d help her, but yesterday she was ready to show me how independent she can be. However, I suppose she’s still not ready to leave the nest just yet as she’s nursing several times a day and doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Women here aim to nurse for 2 years, so no one is rolling their eyes at me just yet.

Learning Turkish is so much fun! So far, I’ve only been able to actually take one course with lack of childcare available to us, but I’ve done a lot of self-study and study with a friend. Scott helps me untangle a lot of the grammar, and I practice everyday while I’m out and about. In fact, I’ll speak with anyone who will let me! Ellie adores going to the grocery store because she ends up getting several free bananas and pickles, but I like to go because I get in good practice! Also, I continue to watch a Turkish drama as many times a week as I can. Each episode is about an hour and a half, and I try to get in at least 3 a week. I learn a lot of vocabulary and situational Turkish. It’s really great! Also, truth be told, I’m totally addicted to the program and secretly (well, not anymore) hope to bump into the actors on the street. I’m sure if they stumbled upon Ellie’s big blue eyes and dimples they’d insist for her to be in their next show!

Ellie and Scott and two peas in a pod

Ellie and Scott are two peas in a pod

What? You don't read books while out on a walk with your mom?

What? You don’t read books while out on a walk with your mom?

Ellie's favorite cashier.

Ellie’s favorite cashier.

One of my favorite study on your own Turkish books.

One of my favorite study on your own Turkish books.

Our park on 9am Monday morning. We had it all to ourselves!

Our park on 9am Monday morning. We had it all to ourselves!

There are some really fun parks around here. Ellie approved!

There are some really fun parks around here. Ellie approved!

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What Parenting has Taught me about God

There’s nothing quite like becoming a parent. People tell you about the unexplainable love they have for their children, but it’s a little surreal  until you are holding a kid in your arms that’s yours. And something I didn’t expect, but I’m supremely thankful for, is how much I’ve learned about God in these past 13 months.Godslove

My friend Keri is full of wisdom and I have remembered many wise things she’s said over the past 10 years that I’ve known her. One that sticks out now and I’ve added to is this: “When you are single you get to do things for God, when you are married you get to know God.” I think I’ll add: and when you have kids you really, really, really get to know God.

You see, in theory I have always known God loves me. I’ve always known He desires and wills my good. But until I became a mom I didn’t know what unconditional love was. Now I do, and now I truly understand a little bit more about the character of God.

One specific way I’ve always failed to trust God’s love is when it comes to His provision. This is pretty silly considering He has always provided well for me. I reflected recently with my husband on how we’ve never gone hungry, never couldn’t pay our electricity bill, always made rent. Moreover, we usually have a few extra dollars/liras/forints in our budget for me to have a latte or two with friends. But the abundant love a parent has for their child isn’t about simply meeting their base needs. If so, the market for children’s toys wouldn’t claim billions of dollars a year! Remember the tickle me Elmo riots a few Christmases back? We love our children and we desire to bless them immensely! So why don’t I always believe God wants to bless me immensely?

My friend Kim and I were reflecting on this reality of unconditional love recently, and framing it in the context of our children approaching us how we approach God. She remarked, “If Evan  walked up to me timidly and asked, “Mom, will you feed me today?” my heart would absolutely break. I’d respond, “Of course I’ll feed you baby! I’d starve before letting you go hungry.” So why can’t we believe that God feels exactly the same way about us??!

Walking this journey with Eleanor has helped me to understand the depths of God’s love for me a little bit more, and for that I’m so grateful. And, how beautiful that He loves all his children like this! He made all of us, knit us together in our mother’s womb! godslove2

If we fully do embrace this truth, how does it change us and impact us daily? What does this truth mean to you?

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